Thursday, June 15, 2006

Who's Hungry?

I've been back from my vacation for a few days now, but I haven't been cooking much.

Before I left on vacation, I used up the good farmers' market produce that was in the fridge (or gave some to the lovely Phoenix), so I came home to an echoing kitchen with not much ready-to-eat food aside from juice.

The next day, I visited the grocery store over my lunch hour so that I could stock up on produce (mostly organic, but not local, alas), yogurt, cheese, and soy milk to get me through the week before I could visit the farmers' market again. I tried not to get too much, because even though I have two big compost bins in the back yard, I really do try not to waste food. (I'll also add that I ate incredibly well, with way too many desserts, and I've now swung back to the other end of the spectrum.)

So it's been a menu of fairly simple, fresh meals this week, nothing too exciting.

But that got me to thinking. Like most Americans, I'm pretty fortunate to be able to keep my cupboards and my refrigerator well stocked with good food, and when I'm out, it's not very difficult for me to head to the store and get more. I'm not rolling in the big bucks by any means, but I live very comfortably and can afford to indulge my love of good, healthy food and the occasional exotic ingredient.

What about those people who can't? How many people can barely afford cans or bags or boxes of nutritionally deficient processed food, let alone fresh fruits and vegetables? How many people are dependent on food stamps, soup kitchens, or local food pantries?

Thoughts like that don't really take away the good taste of my meal, but they do make me think much more carefully when I buy and cook food and make me try to be more mindful of the beauty and the life of the food I eat as well as of those who aren't so lucky.

I do try to support the regional food pantry, but this article on gleaning or food recovery points out ways that other people try to reduce food waste and feed those who need the help, including those who might ordinarily be able to afford food but find their resources diminished in a disaster. Food can be recovered from restaurants, stores, and yes, even farmers' markets and made available to those who need it.

There's so much going on out there in the world of food politics that I still don't know, but I'm very glad to see that there are many resources for reducing food waste and for helping those who need healthy food and can't get it on their own.

In this day and age, no one should go hungry. We have enough to share.

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